Leroy Hood on Sydney Brenner
  Leroy Hood     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jun 2003

Sydney Brenner is a scientist’s scientist. I mean he—he is, I think, remarkable in his ability to change in fundamental ways and be quite accurate in guessing what the future was. So he pioneered many of the most important concepts and classic molecular biology. And then when it became obvious it was important to move to the study of development and multi-cell creatures, he pioneered the development of the nematode as a model system. And then he saw through the creation of it’s lineage—the most complete lineage we have for any organisms today. And then finally when the genome phase came, Sydney made, I think, some of the deepest and most penetrating observations and comments about what should be done. And of course it was culminated with Sydney’s catalyzing really getting the sequence of the puffer fish. This very compact, vertebrate genome finished.

So I think he and even today he gives some of the most articulate compelling amusing lectures that one can have. He’s enormously impressive in his reading ability. He keeps up with everything. He’s always exploring the frontiers and thoughts. And he’s also impressive in how peripatetic he is and how many people’s he’s connected to and how many interactions he has and so forth. So I think his winning the Nobel Prize this past year as many people would agree is an honor that was very long overdue.

Leroy Hood, a leading scientist in molecular biotechnology and genomics, received his M.D. from Johns Hopkins Medical School (1964) and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Caltech (1968). In 1992, after more than 20 years as a faculty member at Caltech, where he and his colleagues revolutionized genomics by developing automated DNA sequencing, he relocated to the University of Washington to establish the cross-disciplinary Department of Molecular Biotechnology.

Dr. Hood is currently President of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle where he leads efforts to pioneer systems approaches to biology and medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received the Lasker Award for his studies on the mechanism of immune diversity.

Sharing an interest in the study of antibody diversity, Hood and Watson met in 1967 when Hood attended his first meeting at CSHL. Leroy has been working on the genome since the late 70’s. He went to the first official genome meeting in Santa Cruz in 1985 and has attended all of the subsequent meetings which have been held at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.